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Libertyville's Historic Milwaukee Avenue
Item 23 of 40
The storefront at 532 N. Milwaukee Avenue appears to be a part of its neighbor to the south, the Proctor Building, due to similar brick and detailing. However, the building was constructed in 1905, two years after the Proctor Building. The two-story structure with a basement was built to house the offices and printing facilities of the Lake County Independent newspaper. About a decade later, the newspaper built another building across the street and a movie theater moved in to the space. The Liberty Theatre, no relation to the later constructed, free-standing theatre building a block or so north, showed films here until 1923. After that the storefront served for a few years as an electrical supply store. The Mackey jewelry store began about a forty year run at this address in 1929. In the late 1970s and 1980s, the Tap n Tote bar served up drinks here. After a refurbishing of both the exterior and interior in 1988, the space was reborn as Morgan’s Bar and Grill which is still in operation today.

532 N. Milwaukee Avenue, circa 2016

532 N. Milwaukee Avenue, circa 2016

Lake County Independent office, far left, 1905-1913

Lake County Independent office, far left, 1905-1913

Liberty Theatre, 1915-1923

Liberty Theatre, 1915-1923

Mackey Jewelry Store, 1940s

Mackey Jewelry Store, 1940s

532 N. Milwaukee Avenue, circa 1975

532 N. Milwaukee Avenue, circa 1975

The Lake County Independent, under the leadership of F.H. Just, touted the construction progress of its new home in the November 11, 1904 issue. The newspaper transferred its offices and printing equipment to the new building following the publication of the January 13, 1905 issue. As constructed, the two-story pressed brick structure was 80 feet deep and 24 feet wide with entrances on either side of plate glass windows. Thick concrete foundations reduced vibrations from the printing presses. A lodge hall occupied the second floor. Local chapters of the Odd Fellows and Modern Woodmen of America held meetings here in various years. Local tradesman involved in the construction included C.P. Fisher, mason, Edward or George McDonald, carpenters, Charles Woodridge, millwork, William Spellman, plasterer, and D.A. Young, painter.

Nine years later, the newspaper, headed by W.J. Smith, built another home for its offices and printing plant on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue just to the south of the Libertyville Garage and vacated 532 N. Milwaukee Avenue. F.H. Just, who still owned the 1905 building, remodeled and installed a drop floor and a new front to welcome a “moving picture house” to be operated by Frank M. Suydam. The Liberty Theatre debuted by early 1915 providing competition for the Lyric Theatre which had been in operation across the street since 1909. The Liberty Theatre closed in 1923 after entertaining Libertyville audiences for a little over eight years.

F.H. Just sold the building to Merle Weiskopf and J.J. Alkofer, proprietors of the Libertyville Battery and Electric Shop. The interior was remodeled once again to provide display space for electrical supplies and appliances. By February 1924, the firm was ensconced at 532 N. Milwaukee Avenue. The partnership dissolved two years later and the building was sold to C.O. Carlson. Alkofer ran The Libertyville Electric Shop for a few more years in this location, but by the end of 1929 the Mackey Jewelry shop had supplanted the electrical store.

Matt and Dagmar Mackey bought the Libertyville jewelry business of Archie J. McDonald in November 1929. Mr. Mackey continued to run the couple’s Waukegan store while Mrs. Mackey helmed the Libertyville location. The store was a fixture of the Libertyville retail scene for about 40 years. Mrs. Mackey was profiled in a 1941 newspaper article as part of a “Who’s Who Among Libertyville Merchants.” The Mackeys purchased the building from C.O. Carlson in 1940 and in the spring of 1941 remodeled the store and the second floor lodge hall for use as two apartments.

Mackey’s remained in business until about 1970. Self Defense Unlimited used the storefront for a year or two in the mid 1970s before the arrival of the Tap n Tote bar. Edward Morgan purchased the building and the tavern (the former owner insisted on a package deal) in 1981. The bar continued to operate under the Tap n Tote banner for several years.

In spring 1988, Morgan was one of a group of local businesses to strip back building modernization of the 1960s and 1970s to reveal and restore the historic structures underneath. Architects David McCallum and Mike Sutter contributed to the façade design and interior remodeling. The establishment added food to the beverage offerings and launched as Morgan’s Bar & Grill which is still in business today.

Morgan’s Bar & Grill. Accessed August 25, 2020.

"New home for Lake Co. Independent to be built." Lake County Independent and Waukegan Weekly Sun, 12 Jun 1914, 2, p. 9

"Work progresses on our new home." Lake County Independent and Waukegan Weekly Sun, 9 Oct 1914, 2, p. 9

"Independent moves to new home next week." Lake County Independent and Waukegan Weekly Sun, 20 Nov 1914, p. 1

"The room in the Kaiser building..." Lake County Independent, August 27, 1909, p.5.

“We Have Moved.” Advertisement. Libertyville Independent, February 14, 1924, p4.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. 1907, 1912, 1924, 1933, 1948.

“Libertyville is to have a second moving picture house…” Lake County Independent, December 11, 1914, p.4.

“New Home for the Independent.” Lake County Independent November 11, 1904, p1.

“In Our New Home.” Lake County Independent, January 13, 1905, p.1.

“Two Local Business Houses Change Hands this Week.” Libertyville Independent, November 1, 1923, p.1.

“Electric Company to Occupy New Quarters.” Lake County Register, December 8, 1923, p.1.

“C.O. Carlson Buys Battery Co. Building.” Libertyville Independent, August 5, 1926, p1.

Libertyville Telephone books. Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society collection.

“Waukegan Man Buys Jewelry Store Here: M.E. Mackey." Independent Register, November 14, 1929, p.1.

Mackey’s Store/Carlson Building. Assessment Record. Accessed August 25, 2020.

“Mrs. Mackey Remodels Store: ‘No Town Like Libertyville.’” Independent Register, February 6, 1941. p.1.

Waller,C.J. “Stores put on new faces.” Daily Herald, March 28, 1988, Local Section, p.2.

“Down-home and downtown.” Chicago Tribune, September 11, 1994, p.L_B5.

MilwaukeeAveN532-534. Accessed August 25, 2020.

“Grand Opening.” Independent-Register April 17, 1941, p.3.

Waukegan, Illinois, City Directory, 1905. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Village of Libertyville.

Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society

Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society

Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society

Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society. Libertyville Township Assessor collection.